HEAT VISION

How 'Clone Wars' Premiere Sets Up a 'Star Wars' Endgame

The series is back after six years and is ready to tie up loose ends and set a course for the future.
'Star Wars: The Clone Wars'   |   Courtesy of Disney+
The series is back after six years and is ready to tie up loose ends and set a course for the future.

[This story contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Clone Wars season seven, episode one.]

The seventh and final season of The Clone Wars is upon us. With those twelve episodes, set to be released weekly on Disney+, come a myriad of expectations and possibilities. Some of those will be fulfilled, while others, with this being Star Wars, will be followed up upon later in the films, series, video games and comics yet to be released. We’ve been at the end of The Clone Wars before, with the 13-episode sixth season premiering on Netflix in 2014 and providing answers to several lingering questions about Order 66, Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas and Yoda’s ability to become a Force ghost. Unproduced arcs from the series were later turned into comics and novels, under the umbrella The Clone Wars Legacy. But even with those stories living on in other mediums, there was still room for more for the show created by George Lucas. Across these upcoming 12 episodes, supervising director Dave Filoni is set to conclude the war that ended one era of the galaxy and gave birth to another.

So what can we expect from this latest season of The Clone Wars? The trailer, released last month, provided some great teases at what looks to be a trilogy of four episode arcs. Arguably most anticipated among these storylines is the showdown between Anakin’s former padawan, Ahsoka Tano, and the Sith crime lord Maul. We already know that both characters survive through The Clone Wars and play key parts in Star Wars Rebels, and we’ve already seen some of their post-Clone Wars season five stories play out in the novel Ahsoka by E.K. Johnston, and the comic series, Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir by Jeremy Barlow and Juan Frigeri. But there are 14 years in between this last season of Clone Wars and the beginning of Rebels, leaving room for plenty more Ahsoka and Maul stories in the interim. Star Wars fans have long hoped to see Ahsoka make the transition into live-action, and we already know that Maul’s story has a gap between his appearance at the end of Solo: A Star Wars Story and his final duel with Ben Kenobi in Rebels. There’s hope that within the dark days of the Empire, Ahsoka and Maul’s stories may branch out of Clone Wars, and if not comprise a new series then at least play into the Cassian Andor/Rogue One prequel series that’s planned on Disney+ with star Diego Luna.

It’s also been confirmed that this seventh season will feature the Siege of Mandalore, the stage in which Ahsoka and Maul duel, which takes place during the events of Revenge of the Sith (2005). Given Filoni’s heavy involvement in The Mandalorian alongside this series, I'd expect several threads within these episodes to either connect to what we’ve already seen play out in the first season of The Mandalorian, or set up future episodes. The Death Watch, a Mandalorian splinter group that resisted the pacifist ways of Mandalore, played an essential role in the Siege, and were also the ones who rescued a young Din Djarin, the boy who would eventually grow up to become The Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal). There’s been some speculation that the Siege might be the place where we see Djarin’s origin story play out, but given his comments about the term Mandalorian referring to a creed and code, as opposed to a race, it’s just as likely that he was not on Mandalore during the time of the Seige, though his homeworld is unknown. Still, even if we don’t see a young Din Djarin in The Clone Wars, there’s a chance we’ll see the early formation of The Tribe, and the groundwork laid for The Great Purge, which saw most of the Mandalorians wiped out during the age of the Empire.

While there’s a lot of heavy mythology being set up for this final season, the series will also return to one of its greatest strengths, the humanization of the Clone Troopers and the ground level perspective on the war. It’s through this lens that we’re resituated in this conflict. The first episode of the final season, directed by Kyle Dunlevy, and written by Brent Friedman, has a history with fans of The Clone Wars. “The Bad Batch,” as the episode is titled, was originally supposed to be part of the original run of Clone Wars episodes before production ended. Those who attended Star Celebration in 2015 were treated to a rough cut, but the specifics of this story, and the start of a four-episode arc seemed destined to be lost to canon. Surprisingly, the story was not adapted into a comic book miniseries, and so Disney+ is the first introduction for many of us to a strange new brood of Clone Troopers.

Clone Force 99, also known as the Bad Batch, are a group of Clone Troopers born with genetic mutations that make them superior to regular soldiers. The four commandos —Hunter, Crosshair, Tech, and Wrecker — not only have physical traits that distinguish them from the other Clone Troopers, but have skillsets to match their namesakes. Clad in black Clone armor, decorated with graffiti, the Bad Batch form a kind of special ops band of troopers, known for their unorthodox methods, success rate and inability to work well with other Clone Troopers, whom they refer to as “regs.” The episode sees the group team up with familiar commandos, Commander Rex and Commander Cody, as they undergo an action-packed mission to recover a strategy algorithm that threatens the tactics of the Republic. As an introductory episode to the new season, “The Bad Batch” is heavy on the action, including a stunning tracking shot that would make Sam Mendes proud, but it’s not without a few revelations that set up next week’s episode. The biggest question coming out of the events of this week’s show is whether the Bad Batch, because of their mutations, were able to resist Order 66? If so, did they survive in the age of the Empire?

The Clone Wars may be ending, and we may already know the fates of certain characters, but there’s enough intrigue going into this final season to keep us guessing about the future. Although earlier seasons of The Clone Wars relied on filler episodes, sometimes to a detriment, the 12-episode order promises to provide nothing but the good stuff. And knowing how Filoni tends to operate, and the wealth of Star Wars stories in the pipeline, every episode in this seventh season has the potential to be essential in a larger story that exists far beyond The Clone Wars, and may in fact determine the future of Disney+’s plans for the property.

  • Richard Newby
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